A very partisan debate is underway among the officially non-partisan state senators as the Unicameral discusses whether Nebraska should again be a winner-take-all state in the presidential elections.
At present, only Nebraska and Maine distribute presidential electors to the Electoral College proportionately.
Maine has had the system since 1969. Nebraska adopted it in 1991.
LB 10, sponsored by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, would return Nebraska to the winner-take-all system.
McCoy told colleagues during legislative floor debate close presidential races seem to be the wave of the future.
“And if so, wouldn’t it be nice to have presidential campaigns campaign in North Platte, campaign in Scottsbluff; not just in Omaha?” McCoy asked
Yet, Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue countered McCoy’s bill would do just the opposite. Crawford pointed to 2008, the only presidential election in which the system came into play. While Republican John McCain showed little interest in Nebraska, Democrat Barack Obama sent campaign workers to the Second Congressional District and won an electoral vote from Nebraska even though McCain easily won the state.
Crawford argued the proportional system provides Nebraska with a potentially hot property for presidential candidates.
“I don’t see any possible state interest in giving that advantage away,” Crawford said.
Democrats charge Republicans are pushing the bill as part of a national agenda. Republicans say the current system doesn’t reflect the will of Nebraska voters.
Debate is expected to last most of this week as opponents stage a filibuster against the bill.
AUDIO: Brent Martin report [:45]